Arizona-Mexico border town hosts House Republicans' meeting to tackle immigration issues

As President Joe Biden visited northern Arizona Tuesday, House Republicans held a joint field hearing focused on the border crisis in southern Arizona.

Aug. 8 marked the second time House Republicans held a hearing in Arizona – the first was in Yuma back in February. 

Overall, those who testified say the hearing in the border town of Sierra Vista was productive. It was held in an area that has seen a rise in illegal crossing, drug trafficking, and human smuggling.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels testified in front of the Joint Subcommittee field hearing, titled "Biden’s Border Crisis and its Effect on American Communities."

"We have to work together collectively. Having Congressional people who set federal law hearing us again is just another step in the right direction," Dannels said. "Hopefully, they will take back what they heard, make some positive changes. If not, we keep communicating, we keep talking until it's changed, and we get some balance and rule of law back in what we do here."

Dannels says the issue is happening both ways as many Americans are also being recruited by cartels.

"You look at over the last 18 months, just under 2,300 people were booked in my jail for border-related crimes. Just under 2,300. Out of that, only 131 were foreign-born or illegally in the country. The rest were all U.S. citizens driving from all over the country to come to my county to commit international crimes."

Testimony was also heard from local rancher John Ladd.

"We live about a mile and a quarter from the border, and we have ten and a half miles of the border on our ranch," he said.

His family’s ranch has been around since 1896. They’ve seen it all when it comes to illegal immigration.

"They started cutting fences and breaking water lines again, so I’ve had a lot of extra work fixing fences, keeping cows off the highway and fixing pipelines 'cause I’m wasting a lot of water," Ladd said.

Earlier this year, illegal border crossings escalated with concerns they’d go even higher after Title 42 restrictions ended in May, but instead, the numbers have recently fallen.

The most recent statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection show that southwest land encounters dropped in June compared to the year before.

Title 8 and our extreme summer heat may be impacting the decrease.

"The days that there isn’t many border patrol on the border, we get a lot of activity and when we do have agents, then they're holding them back across the line," Ladd said. "One day we get ten an hour and the next day we get two an hour, but it's still busy."

This all comes as the Pentagon pulled 1,100 active duty troops from the U.S.-Mexico border. They were in place to help with more administrative work while Title 42 was lifted.

The departures will not impact the additional 2,300 National Guard troops who are already helping out law enforcement along the border.